ROME — Looking to revise his clay-court game ahead of Roland Garros, Kei Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-4 Monday in the first round of the Italian Open.
It was Nishikori’s first victory since reaching the final of the Monte Carlo Masters last month. In his previous two matches, Nishikori retired against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Barcelona and lost to Novak Djokovic in Madrid.
Nishikori hit only 18 winners to Lopez’s 26 but had fewer unforced errors – 19 to 31.
Lopez argued with the chair umpire after losing a point in which he thought the ball bounced twice before Nishikori hit a half volley.
The 24th-ranked Nishikori will next face third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.
Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, 10th-seeded Pablo Carrena Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.
In women’s action, Johanna Konta defeated 17th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3 to improve to 4-0 in her career against the Slovakian; and Petra Martic beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-2 and will next face defending champion Elina Svitolina.
The French Open starts May 27.
NUREMBERG, Germany — Swedish player Johanna Larsson won her first WTA singles title in three years by beating Alison Riske of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the final of the Nuremberg Cup on Saturday.
Her only other career singles victory was on home soil at Bastad in 2015.
Having come from a set down to win matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson rallied from a break down in the first set and won the last four points of the tiebreaker. Larsson then won the final five games to take the match and deny Riske a second career singles title.
“When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired,” Larsson said, “and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back.”
STRASBOURG, France — Third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia won the Strasbourg International after laboring to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Saturday.
They spent 3 hours, 35 minutes on court in a grueling contest, which ended when Pavlyuchenkova sealed victory on her second serve.
Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and 12th overall, beating Cibulkova for the fourth time in their 11 career meetings.
Fifth-seeded Cibulkova was bidding for her ninth career title.
Both players head to the French Open in Paris, where first-round play starts Sunday.
Cibulkova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, while Pavlyuchenkova reached her only quarterfinal there in 2013.